A Pike in the Basement by Simon Loftus – review

A Pike in the Basement Simon Loftus has had a life filled with travel and food. That’s a combination that can bring both pleasure and pain and, in this case, some witty stories. His experiences will make you laugh out loud and you’ll admire his fortitude.

A Pike in the Basement – Tales of a Hungry Traveller is a history of Simon’s food-related life. The chapter headings are charming (Harvest Lunch), thought-provoking (Bullets and Smashed Homelettes), worrying (Shoot a Sheep for Breakfast) and delicious (Fried Eggs and Chapatis). So now you are hooked (nice link, huh?) and you just need to know more, before you even read the first paragraph.

A flooded basement started Simon on his quest for good food and drink. He was seven years old when a flood filled his father’s cellar. His dad decided to drink the wine stored there before it was contaminated by the salt water. Simon can still remember his first sip of ’45 Mouton Rothschild and he didn’t grow up to be a lager lout!

This is a man with a sense of adventure and a taste for fine food. I don’t necessarily mean expensive meals and rare ingredients but the right dish at the right time in the right place. Simon’s memories revolve around food (and drink) and he has collected some marvellous ones during his travels. His constitution has enabled him to survive encounters that would have defeated a lesser man (or woman). Those experiences have been retold with great humour but I am still not persuaded that a glass of Retsina is a good idea for breakfast!

“A fresh peach brings back a walled garden in Brittany, the smell of saffron recalls paella in Andalusia, and the succulence of a watermelon evokes a dusty afternoon in Isfahan.” Well, how romantic is that! But this isn’t an over-sincere travelogue, it’s a rollicking good read. Simon is a cross between Delia Smith and Indiana Jones.

You’ll love this book if you have passions for either food and drink or travel. It’s poetic and a lot of fun.

A Pike in the Basement
Author: Simon Loftus
Published by: Eland Publishing
Price: £12.99
ISBN 0907871240


Travel book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018